Peak summer usually goes in one of two ways for us: either a frenetic, jam-packed, last-gasp-how-is-it-August-already plan vortex OR a gentle leaning in to the long, drowsy swelters of golden lit days, where the only thing (hopefully) on the agenda is tomatoes, a cup of tea, and a swim, if at all humanly possible. As with everything, choosing the latter usually comes when we really tune our ear and listen to what our bodies are telling us *feels* good and just do *that*. This sort of reckoning isn't, at its heart, radical. But in the widening whirlwind of fevered "shoulds" and "musts", reconnecting to the simple medicine of listening to the day's mood and requirements and answering—with something slow, something grown, something green—can feel like a revelation.

Clinical herbalist, Appalachian woodsmaiden, and chief plant mystic behind beloved small-batch herbal apothecary Wooden Spoon Herbs, Lauren Haynes, has built her life and business around connecting and nourishing just these sorts of epiphanies. We sat down with Lauren, writing from her herbalist's tinkerers research kitchen (in a dreamy old converted greenhouse the velvety hills of Tennessee, of course), to talk about the traditions of herbal remedy, how the sacred feminine connects to Earth wisdoms (we were beyond delighted to discover that she and fellow OZMA friend/celebrated plant-whisperer Erin Lovell Verinder took a witchy ladies roadtrip together earlier this year), and the patience and tonic of time as taught by plants.

Lauren wears the Carrasco Jumpsuit and 1930's Bandana in Avocado.





There is a deep magic in building a sense of familiar in a wild space. What are some of your favorite places to be in nature and how do those overlap with places where you do your work?

Herbalism builds so much familiarity in wildness. My favorite places include the Blue Ridge Mountains, a sandy beach by a cold creek, the coast of California, near the redwoods in Big Sur, Sitton's Gulch in Cloudland Canyon, in the water in the Little River Canyon. 

Also, I live in the woods so just being outdoors on this land fills me right back up. It's so intimate and familiar, and so very wild! Just a few weeks ago, a wild boar was eating our compost. If that's not blurring the line between familiarity and wilderness, I don't know what is!

We work from home here, on the land, and we also have a small warehouse here, built out of an old greenhouse in passive solar design. One wall of the space is entirely windows, looking out onto a little hill where deer love to graze in the afternoons. From my desk, I'm looking straight out into the woods, and get to watch hummingbirds, hawks, spiders and dragonflies live their lives while I live mine.

Appalachia holds a rich tradition of herbal remedy— the very nature of the landscape is gentle, ancient, rounded, and wise. How important is a sense of place to your connectivity to those traditions?

Such a beautiful description - gentle, ancient, rounded, and wise. The traditions and landscape of Appalachia, specifically eastern Tennessee where I was born and raised, where my family has been for generations, have formed me almost entirely. They are who I am. They are why I started Wooden Spoon Herbs - to highlight the beauty and bounty of this bioregion, one of the most rich and biodiverse places on this planet. I am innately connected to the folkways and traditions of this place, and am literally made of this place. My mom ate vegetables grown here when she was pregnant with me, they became my cells. 

No matter how much I cherish and learn about the land and plants here, I know there are thousands of generations of people who know it and love it more deeply. The river I live on was said to be the meeting point between the Creeks to the southwest and the Cherokees to the northeast. I honor them and their traditions by not wildcrafting for profit, by caretaking the land and by not using any of their Indigenous medicine ways as my own.

Herbalism also has an ancient lineage which is anecdotally matriarchal. Do you feel a resonance between your own version of the sacred feminine and your work with plants?

I definitely feel like female-identifying people are the keepers of the Earth wisdoms. I laugh when I think about how repelled I am by male teachers of herbalism, which is silly, but is a slight aversion I do honestly have. Like, how dare you mansplain something to me that I feel so deeply in my bones? Step aside, we've got this.







Lauren wears the Carrasco Jumpsuit and 1930's Bandana in Avocado.







What are the quietest lessons we can learn from plants? What are the loudest?

The quietest lessons we can learn are those of patience and the tonic of time. Not everything works immediately, and not everything heals in a big "leap forward" type of shift. Nonetheless, the plants are still healing you, just surrender and let them do their work.

The loudest lesson is to be very very careful. The plant world is powerful! You have to be careful, pay attention, and know what you're doing, lest you make a mistake and eat something you shouldn't. 

Another loud lesson, at least to me, is that the Earth is precious and we must do everything in our power to protect it.

We sat down with Erin Lovell Verinder last month and did we see that you guys took a magical plant lady roadtrip together? What was that like? What did you teach and what did you discover?

Yes! It was the most fun traipsing through my neck of the woods with Erin, Noah and Georgia. I was honored to introduce them to the landscape and plants of southern Appalachia. It was truly a blast. We visited a handful of organic medicinal herb farms, met a lot of kind people, and stayed up late laughing. It culminated with them coming to my little cabin in the woods before they set off on their next adventure. I hope I taught them some new plants to know, and I discovered a life long friendship or three.



What is blossoming for you now? What are you searching for? What are you eagerly awaiting in the next season?

For me, I am shifting into a new, relentless form of self care. Meaning, I'm being ruthless about letting anything stressful that can fall away, fall away. Prioritizing my own mental and physical health, my own precious relationships, above all. So that feels good. Experimenting with different ways of eating, which always leads to breakthroughs. Studying all the latest science about the microbiome. Searching for less, and eagerly awaiting the coolness of autumn.






Follow Lauren on Instagram here, annd Wooden Spoon Herbs here. Photography by Brooke Bragger.






New User

By creating an account with our store, you will be able to move through the checkout process faster, store multiple shipping addresses, view and track your orders in your account and more.